Rick Esch, vice president for business affairs at Pitt–Bradford, was chosen by his fellow staff members to receive the Staff Recognition Award for his leadership in helping the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We never would have gotten through this challenging time without Rick,” said Catherine Koverola, Pitt–Bradford’s president. “He is the bedrock of Pitt–Bradford and embodies servant leadership.”
Esch was nominated for the award by Kathy Moonan, manager of accounts payable who has worked with Esch for many years; James Baldwin, vice president for enrollment management; and Pat Frantz Cercone, executive director of communications and marketing.
“His leadership enhanced the safety and well-being of all concerned during a time when almost everything was uncertain,” Moonan wrote in her nomination.
For nearly 18 months, Esch, who oversees budget and financial reporting, auxiliary services and facilities management, has represented the Bradford and Titusville campuses on the Chancellor’s Resilience Steering Committee and has worked closely with Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office. He also has collaborated with local, regional and state agencies, including the McKean County and Crawford County Emergency Management agencies, UPMC and Bradford Regional Medical Center.
Esch also assembled and led a COVID-19 Mitigation Response Team, which included representatives from most offices at Bradford and Titusville. Under his leadership, the team successfully implemented many changes on campus, including testing asymptomatic students weekly; isolating and quarantining symptomatic students; adapting the physical plant, including the dining hall and classrooms, to enable physical distancing; purchasing masks, signage and other materials; and identifying vaccinations sites.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten,” Cercone added, “that Rick did all of this while still performing all of his other important duties.”
Esch, who is a 1983 Pitt–Bradford alumnus, started his career at his alma mater in 1994 as the director of auxiliary services. In 1999, he was named chief business and administrative affairs officer, and in 2003 was promoted to vice president for business affairs.
He holds a master of business administration from the Katz Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Pitt–Bradford.
The annual Staff Recognition Award honors employees whose performance consistently exceeds the standards and expectations set for their position at the university or whose work in the community surpasses the expectations of the organizations for whom they serve and whose commitment and effort have made a significant impact on the community.